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14 Dec 2002 00:08
A total of 73 prisoners escaped from the prison in Bizana in the Eastern Cape on Friday. Provincial correctional services commissioner Raphepheng Mataka told Sapa police had rearrested seven of the escapees.
The inmates escaped when they were evacuated from the prison
after a gas stove exploded in the prison’s centre courtyard causing a fire.
Mataka said the prison currently has 312 inmates, although
actually only had capacity for 53 prisoners.
He said the building’s kitchen was being renovated, and the food
for the prisoners was being cooked on gas stoves in the courtyard.
“There was an explosion and while officials were trying to stop
the fire, we had to evacuate all 312 prisoners to the outside of
“Once outside 73 of the prisoners decided to run away instead of being happy that we saved their lives,” Mataka said.
He said the inmates who escaped were serving terms for all types of crimes, but mainly stocktheft.
“Luckily we have a very good relationship with the community and they are helping us search for those who escaped.
He said it was expected that most of the escapees would be
rearrested by dawn on Saturday. - Sapa
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